Read Parts 001- 006 HERE

The Experiment  – Part 007

As her hand plunged into her bag, Father Jerimiah took a step towards her. 

“Looking for something?” He asked, raising an eyebrow inquisitively. 

Her hand moved around inside the bag, desperately trying to locate the gun. Deep down she knew it wasn’t there, most likely fallen out during her fall, but she refused to accept it.

“I fear you are out of your depth here,” Jeremiah raised his hand, summoning something behind Shona.

Turning, she saw the figure of Howard Smythe stepping forwards, his dark eyes glistening in the firelight. 

“Grandfather!” Billy shouted from the circle of torches.

The others around him were still stood, as if in a trance, as Billy stepped towards the edge of the circle. Shona’s eyes were drawn by what appeared to be white chalk lines etched on the stone floor, linking the torches surrounding the group. 

As Billy crossed the chalk lines, flames flared up from the torches, flooding the room with a burst of burning heat and light. Billy stumbled backwards, the hair on his face and scalp blackened as they burned, and blisters formed across his skin. A primal scream erupted from his lips. 

“Now, now, William,” Father Jerimiah scolded. “I told you that you must stay within the circle, there are rules that need to be abided to.”

Shona was trying to keep her focus on Howard Smythe and Jeremiah as she glanced at Billy. The young man had curled up in the centre of the group, the four others stood around him still unmoving.

“What the hell is going on here?” Shona demanded, trying to sound forceful.

“Oh poor Shona, you have caused us quite a problem by still being alive you know,” Jeremiah smiled kindly at her. “You were meant to be the first, you see.”

“The first what?” 

“The first sacrifice of course,” Jeremiah moved his eyes to Smythe briefly, and the man lurched forwards, his large hands clasping around Shona’s arms, pinning them to her sides.

“Get off me!” She struggled in futile against the grip.

“I’m glad to see you have returned to us, hopefully, we can continue without interruption now.”

Howard Smythe forced Shona towards the far end of the room, past the light of the torches and into the dark. Jeremiah lifted a torch from a metal holder on the wall and joined them. The glow of the flames causing the shadows to dissipate and reveal a large cave opening. As they neared, a cool wind brushed past them, the smell of sulphur filling the air. 

“Please, tell me what’s going on,” Shona whimpered, hoping her tone would disarm Jerimiah.

“Oh child, it’s better you don’t know. Ignorance is bliss, simply know that what is about to happen is for a greater good,” Jeremiah replied. He was stood next to the opening, the flame of the torch struggling to stay alive as the wind howled around it.

“I want to know!” Shona shouted, her voice seeming to fall into the opening and became muted. 

“Very well,” Jeremiah sighed. “We have a few minutes before the arrival.” 

He turned back to Shona, holding the flaming torch so close to her face that she could feel the warmth glowing across her skin. 

“Almost twelve decades ago, this village was founded by seven families. They had been fleeing the plague that was blighting the lands, seeking somewhere far away from the rest of the civilisation. Arriving at this very place we are stood, they made camp under an ash tree which they hoped would provide shelter from brewing storm clouds on the horizon. As the night grew dark, the storm arrived, bringing thunderous rain and terrifying lightning, the torrential waters turning the fields to treacherous rivers of mud which destroyed the camp, and the cold daring the huddled families to surrender to an icy death. The small group feared for their lives, regretting leaving the safety of the towns. One man, the spiritual guide of the group, began to pray, praying to anything and anyone that would listen. He prayed that the families would be spared that night, that they would be indebted to any who helped them. At the height of his prayers, a bolt of lightning struck the tree, instantly turning it a pale white. The muddied ground turned to hard limestone, creating a surface for the families to rebuild the camp and survive until dawn arrived. An ancient being from the dawn of the world had answered their prayers, and protected them.”

The wind began to increase through the tunnel ahead of Shona as her eyes were becoming more accustomed to the half-light. Inside the tunnel, there appeared to be jagged rocks lining the walls around a large chasm. At the centre, a single pillar of rock stood. Around it, wrapped like thick string, were the white roots of a tree. 

“The demonic saviour of the families had but one request as thanks for their lives. To remember the gift of life it had given them, each family must offer a soul, each from every second generation of their bloodlines.”

The howling of the wind began to change, turning into a guttural growling as something arose from the chasm before them. 

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What Happens Next? You Decide!

a) Shona stayed still, frozen in fear.

b) Shona screamed and struggled to get free.

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Voting closes on Sunday 13th September 2020 4pm BST

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Vote in the comments or on my social media! Voting closes on Sunday 13th September 2020 4 pm BST

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